The first step to getting rid of bed bugs is determining that you have bed bugs. Many pests can get into your Phoenix home and bite you or cause rashes that look like bed bug bites. It is also possible to think you have bed bugs when there aren't any bugs in your home at all. We sometimes get calls for bed bug pest control in Phoenix and there are no bed bugs to remove. Let's start by looking at early signs of bed bugs, where bed bugs will bite you, and how to check for bed bugs in your home. Then, we'll look at how to treat bed bugs and get all the bugs out of your home.
Clear Signs Of A Bed Bug Infestation In Your House
When you find bites on your skin, you may think you have a bed bug problem, even if the bites are from outdoor pests. Insect bites don't always swell and itch immediately. It can take hours or even days for the irritation to grow to a point where you notice you're getting bites. If you notice bites in the morning, you're likey to assume that you were bitten during the night. It only makes sense. But finding bites in the morning doesn't necessarily mean that you were bitten during the night, and finding bites on your skin doesn't mean that it is bed bugs biting you. So, how can you tell if bed bugs are biting you? Here are five clear signs that you have a bed bug problem.
- Start by diagnosing the bites. Bed bugs bite in a specific way. Each bed bug typically bites three times. If several of these insects bite you, the wounds will create a path on your skin. Bed bug bites are usually associated with an extensive rash, so you'll also see a rash encompassing the bites. You'll likely find these bites on areas of your skin that are exposed at night and they will be on your upper body, near your neck and head.
- Look for black fecal spotting. You don't have to rely on bites alone to determine you have a bed bug infestation. These insects commonly leave excrement on pillowcases, bedspreads, quilts, sheets, and other bedding. Check seams, stitching, and folds closely. You can also check your mattress and box spring. Look under labels, in vents, and around grommets.
- Look for brown or red stains. Bed bugs often excrete blood. Fresh stains will look red, but often the stains turn tan or brown before they're detected, so they're more likely to look like urine stains than blood stains. Look for these in the same places you look for black fecal spotting.
- Look for shed skins. As bed bug nymphs grow, they shed their skins several times. You'll find these yellowish skins in creases, tight spaces, cracks, and recesses. Check around your bed for these as well. You may find them along your baseboards or underneath outlets.
- Use your nose to detect pheromones, Bed bugs communicate using excretions that have an aroma. Some describe these pheromones as smelling like a musty towel.
When you put the clues together, you can determine that you have a bed bug infestation even if you don't see any bugs. But, if you know where to look, you may find the bed bugs themselves, then you won't have any doubts that you have a bed bug infestation.
Why Bed Bugs Like To Bite Sleeping People
When considering where bed bugs hide, it helps to know why bed bugs like to bite you while you're sleeping. Let's start by quickly looking at what motivates bed bugs to come out and bite you at night.
- Bed bugs eat blood. They want to live as close as possible to this food source which is, unfortunately, you and the other people living in your home.
- When you sleep, you produce more CO2. The increase in CO2 alerts bed bugs that it is time to feed.
- Bed bugs prefer nighttime activity because they have an aversion to light.
- Bug bugs prefer to feed on people when they're lying still. A bed bug wants to bite more than once and they need a few minutes each time they bite.
All of these are reasons why bed bugs want to establish themselves near beds. Check your bed first. Inspect your bedding, mattress, box spring, and bed frame. Also, check around your bed. A common place we find bed bugs is underneath the feet of furniture. Move furniture around and inspect thoroughly.
While bed bugs prefer to hide inside or near your beds, you might also find them near couches, recliners, office chairs, and in other places where you sit or lounge. Inspect tight spaces, pockets, stitching, seams, and recesses. Look for all the warning signs above as you look for the bugs. You'll likely find feces, blood stains, and shed skins around the bed bugs. You may also find tiny white eggs.
Knowing where bed bugs hide is the first step. Properly identifying them is the second step. You may think you know what bed bugs look like, but don't skip this section. Bed bugs don't always look like the rusty-brown, flat, seed-shaped insects you've seen on the internet.
- Newly hatched nymphs are 1mm long and white. While they have the same flat, seed-shaped bodies and six legs as adults, the white coloration could throw you off. It is also hard to closely inspect newly hatched nymphs for visual traits since they're barely the width of a credit card.
- A newly hatched nymph with fresh blood in it will look like a tiny red insect. The reason for this is that the abdomen of a bed bug is much larger than the head and thorax, and the skin is transparent.
- Growing nymphs are between 1mm and 4.5mm long and tan. After a blood meal, they will look reddish. If they haven't had a recent blood meal, they may appear black.
- An adult bed bug is about 4.5mm in length. A group of these bugs will sit in a space no larger than your thumbnail.
Finding bed bugs early can help you save money. At first, bed bugs will stay near your beds and other furniture, but eventually they'll grow a population and spread through your home. When this happens, it is more expensive to deal with them. Let's take a look at some of the places a bed bug might hide in your home.
All The Places Bed Bugs Could Be Hiding In Your Home
Bed bugs love two things: tight spaces and dark voids. Keep these two facts in mind as you look around your home for warning signs that bed bugs are spreading. You won't find bed bugs out in the open, they hide from view. Here are a few common places bed bugs are found hiding.
- Inside alarm clocks, computers, and other electronics.
- Inside the gaps, recesses, and voids of hardwood furniture, including pianos.
- Behind baseboards and crown molding.
- Underneath carpet edges.
- Inside wall outlets and wall voids.
- In the luggage or bags you brought with you on vacation.
Some of these locations are difficult to inspect. You'll need to look for surface evidence, such as black streaks and black spots, shed skins littered about, tiny white eggs tucked in tight spaces, etc. Use a flashlight to look into recesses or to inspect hidden voids. Use a probing tool to drag along carpet edges and other tight spaces to bring evidence to the surface. Concentrate your efforts on inspecting areas of your home that are near beds, couches, and chairs. Bed bugs will hide close to where you sleep, sit, or lounge.
Contact The Pros At The First Sign Of Bed Bugs In Your Home
When you first find bed bugs, it is best to contact local pest control for bed bugs. These insects are often difficult to control. If you attempt to get rid of bed bugs and fail, they can come back to haunt you over and over. They may hide in your home until you give up placing traps and other items out to catch them and then they will resume biting you. They may accidentally leave your home with friends and extended family, only to return later. Catching them early and having a trained and experienced professional get rid of them is the best way to deal with bed bugs. If you're in Phoenix, contact ACTION Termite & Pest Control for assistance. We use smart solutions (such as K-9 bed bug inspectors and heat treatments) to address bed bug problems. Our K-9 bed bug inspectors will move quickly through your home and sniff out bed bugs in the places they hide. Once found, we apply heat treatment technology to eliminate bed bugs naturally. If you'd like to learn more about these and other bed bug control methods we offer, reach out to us through our contact page or give us a call. We're here to help you with all your pest concerns.